VILANO BEACH, Fla. - A body found Wednesday morning on the shoreline of Vilano Beach has been identified as a 20-year-old swimmer who went missing Sunday evening, the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office said.
Deputies said the body was found about 7:30 a.m., a mile north from where Skyler Christian Taylor disappeared in the water off Porpoise Point in Vilano Beach.
Taylor, who attended Florida State College at Jacksonville and graduated from Orange Park High School, was last seen about 150 yards out from the midpoint of the jetties, but then was lost to sight, first responders said.
His death has been ruled an accidental drowning by the medical examiner's office.
FSCJ issued the following statement:
“We are deeply saddened by the recent loss of Skyler Christian Taylor. We consider our students to be family and losing one of them is an unthinkable tragedy. Our sincerest condolences go out to Mr. Taylor’s family and friends who are mourning his loss.”
The search for Taylor began four days ago, deputies said, and shifted Monday from a rescue mission to a recovery mission.
"We were at our beach house and then we just saw everybody crowding over here," James Booher, who was at the beach when Taylor disappeared, told News4Jax on Wednesday. "It's kind of scary and it opens your eyes because really, we all like to think that we are safe, but you never know when it's too much for you to handle."
Deputies said they notified Taylor's family after the body was found.
"I've lived on the beach my whole life so I know a lot about the rip current, so I know it's very dangerous and it should be taken seriously, and I feel like it's not really taken seriously because a lot of people are in still in the water," Chandler Cole said.
As word spread spread Wednesday, beachgoers kept a watchful eye on one another and the powerful waves.
"Just don't let them out of your sight and stay within arm's length of them, because the current comes in fast and it leaves fast," said Paul Wysocki.
Lifeguards are stationed at the beach from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
There were five drownings reported at area beaches last year, and five in 2015. This was the first drowning at Vilano Beach since 2007, according to News4Jax records.
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